Space: The Protocols of Longevity
Shannon Alfred Jones
Lieutenant, 2nd in Command
Most people know my old man and they think they know me through him. They always say a kid’s the reflection of his parents and they see my father and then look at me and think, “Well, the kid’s got promise at least. He’ll probably get somewhere one day, with a father like that he’s got the genes to go far.” The thing is, they never see my mom. No one’s ever really seen her, not around the house, not around the town, not even around the entire fucking planet. I guess she used to be around when I was still just a kid, but that didn’t really last long. One day she just didn’t really exist anymore. No one really knows what happened. I went to school, came back, and she was gone. No one’s seen her since then. I like to think maybe they see a little bit of her reflected in me, but I can’t really know for sure. Truth is, I don’t really remember enough of her to know what part of me she shaped. Maybe in the end she didn’t shape any of me. Being the offspring of a war hero, well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, let me tell you. You work your whole damned life to be given a pat on the head, like you’re nothing but a fucking dog, and eventually you don’t even remember what it’s like to be yourself anymore. I’m more of what he wants me to be than anything else; more of him than of my mother. It’s funny because at some point you lose yourself in trying to be the son your father wishes he had, but you never really can be…So you’re not YOU anymore, but you’re not what he wants either. What exactly are you at that point?
You’re ambition. You’re damaged ego. You’re damaged goods. You’re the best pilot the academy had to offer, but that’s not good enough. You’re not a captain and you never will be. But you tell yourself you will be, because your old man wants you to be, because you’ve lost who you used to be and really that’s all you have left, because you think maybe, just maybe, if you’re good enough…maybe your mother will come back. You sound psychotic, having ridiculous hopes and dreams like that, but they’re all you have left so you keep them, remnants of your shattered self, shards of memories you keep locked away like the precious secrets they are. You don’t have friends, not anymore, and maybe you never did, but that’s alright; friends can’t make you into the man you need to become anyway. In place of friends and friendships, you give out respect, and even that’s doled out in minute quantities. Maybe that’s all life is about after all: respect. Giving respect and getting respect. Earning respect, that’s what life is about. Earning respect and not being treated like a fucking dog that’s too old to learn a new trick.